NEW ORLEANS - It’s likely you won’t hear their names Sunday night during Super Bowl 47. It’s likely you don’t even know who they are.
They’re working to change that. It may not happen by the end of the Super Bowl, but they believe that the chance to be a part of a team stocked with men to eventually become NFL legends is a good start.
They’re rookies that don’t get a whole lot of playing time. In fact, their statistics for the 2012 season are in single digits, even combined. But, they’re ok with that for now, because what they’ve learned from following in the footsteps of guys like Ed Reed, Bernard Pollard and Ray Lewis, they say, is priceless.
Omar Brown of Moncks Corner, South Carolina and Asa Jackson of Sacramento, California say the whole experience has been unbelievable.
“I’m just fortunate enough and blessed enough to be on a team where the leadership is so strong. …Being able to come into a situation like that, you know… To learn the NFL from those guys has been great,” Jackson said.
Ask Brown, and he will tell you about the same thing. Right now, he says, it’s about learning from the best so that he can be ready when it’s his time to shine.
“Whenever my time comes, I’ll have those tools to use to put out on the field,” Brown said.
Brown said it’s hard to believe that last year he was playing in the Beef O’Brady’s Bowl and this year, his first year in the NFL, he’s experiencing a Super Bowl.
“There’s been a lot going through my mind,” he said. “To actually be here, to live out a dream to be in the Super Bowl, to be a part of a great NFL team, it’s a great feeling.”
While the two rookies praise veteran leaders for their on-the-field knowledge, they say what guys like Ray Rice, Ray Lewis, Joe Flacco and Ed Reed provide off the field is just as valuable. They say it has been visible through the playoffs and into the week of the Super Bowl.
“They know how to be professionals on and off the field,” Jackson said. “That’s something that they’re teaching all of us every day.”
Emotions felt by guys like Brown and Jackson were much different than those of some of their teammates. In their first season they are experiencing something that many of the game’s most talented players never experienced. Not being in the spotlight, Jackson said, was an opportunity to really take in how big of an event the Super Bowl actually is, not just to the players, but the fans and everyone else involved in the game.
“This is a once in a lifetime event for some people. You always hope to try to get back here, but just being able to experience this at least one time, has been great,” Jackson said.
Brown and Jackson are both defensive backs that knew being drafted by the Ravens would be a good thing. Now, they’re really finding out how good it was.
Leadership, respect, patience – all things the two rookies say they’ve gained or sharpened, and it’s carried over into their lives outside of football.
Jackson’s stepfather is a diehard 49ers fan, but on Sunday, Jackson says, he will be wearing purple and black.
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